to know how to ask for the job the right way! – WAU

Necessary for any marketing strategy, graphic designers are eccentric beings and often communicate using apparently their own language, which only they understand. Therefore, if you want to communicate well with a designer, it is good to stay on top of some terms that are part of the design universe. A curious fact is that, […]

Necessary for any marketing strategy, graphic designers are eccentric beings and often communicate using apparently their own language, which only they understand.

Therefore, if you want to communicate well with a designer, it is good to stay on top of some terms that are part of the design universe.

A curious fact is that, because they are completely common terms in the daily life of a designer, some of these professionals simply do not understand that some “lay” people in the subject do not know what certain terms mean.

So here is a complete glossary of graphic design with a list of the most common terms in the daily lives of these picturesque creatures!



A2 / A3 / A4 / A5

They are paper formats.

  • A4 is the famous legal format (sometimes called paper / bond paper).
  • A3 is double that of an A4.
  • A5 is half of an A4.
  • A2 is double that of an A3.

And so on.


Leading company in graphics software. Develops the famous Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, Illustrator, among others.

After Effects

Adobe video animation / manipulation software. With it you can do everything from texts gliding on the screen to helicopters being destroyed by burning meteorites from space.


Organization of objects on a canvas (canvas).

Objects can be aligned to the right, left or centered. Objects can also be aligned using other objects as a reference.

graphic design glossary


It is an “extra” channel (in addition to the red, green and blue channels) in digital images that represent transparency. This means that an image with an alpha channel may have parts where what is behind it is apparent.

The most common formats that support this layer are GIF and PNG.

Height “X”

It is the measure that represents the height (X axis) of a graphic element (image, font, object, etc.).

It can be given in several measurement units, such as centimeters, millimeters, inches, pixels, etc.


Font family without serif created in 1982 by designers Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders. This font has been available to any Windows user since version 3.1 and was created so that it would not refer to any emotion, completely neutral.

Much like the renowned Helvetica fountain.

graphic design glossary

Art Nouveau

Very important artistic movement in graphic design, as it implemented woodcut (printing using a matrix made of stone) that allowed posters with detailed illustrations to be printed in large runs for the first time.

graphic design glossary
Poster by one of the exponents of Art Noveau, Alphonse Mucha


Technique where images are displayed at fast speed in a short period of time to give a sense of movement to graphic elements.


Company that develops various graphics software such as the powerful 3D tool Maya, also the 3D tool 3Ds Max and the very famous software for architecture and engineering AutoCad.



Base is the bottom of an object, font, or layout.

Bevel and Emboss

Effect that can be applied to fonts or objects, giving the impression that they are three-dimensional. Most graphics software (such as Photoshop) generates this effect automatically.

Due to the ease with which it is applied, it ended up being misused in the 90s and nowadays its exaggerated use can be seen as bad design, so be careful when using this effect.

graphic design glossary

Bitmap (BMP)

Literally translating: bitmap. Which is exactly what a digital image is!

When we have a digital image, if we zoom in on the image a lot, we will have several squares, right? These squares are called pixels.

These pixels are arranged in rows and columns to form a coherent image.

And this is what we call a bitmap: a series of small squares organized in a large space, as if it were a map where each square has its pre-established place to, in the end, generate a coherent image.


Powerful 3D tool completely free and open source. Download it on the official website by clicking here.


Blur effect.

There are several different types of blur, such as Gaussian blur (gaussian blur) or motion blur (motion blur).

Bold (bold)

Changing the original font that makes the letter thicker. Used to highlight most important parts of the text.


It is not the logo, symbol or graphic mark. Brand is the essence of the brand. It is more related to the playful and conceptual sense represented by a brand,

For example, Coca Cola does not represent soft drinks, juices, and other industrialized drinks. Coca cola represents a happy and optimistic lifestyle.


It is a document used as a guide for a design project. In this document, basic points about the project are specified, optimizing time and reducing the chance of errors and refractions.

Learn more about it and learn how to create an incredible briefing by clicking here.


A tool found in various graphics software, the brush generally simulates brushes.

Programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator allow the customization of brushes, where it is possible to use any graphics as a brush, generating its repetition and adding textures to the final work.



It is the name given to the desktop in graphics software. It can also be called a screen (literal translation) or stage.


Color scale used for printing.

Whenever we are going to work with an image that will be printed (and not just used digitally), we must work with the CMYK scale

CMYK means: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

When we are going to print an image – if special colors like gold, silver, fluorescent colors, etc. are not used – all the colors seen in the printout are the result of the mixture of these four colors.

graphic design glossary

Cinema 4D

Another powerful 3D software. Adobe makes available the light version of this software together with its animation software, After Effects.

Chromatic circle

It is a simplified representation of the colors perceived by the human eye.

graphic design glossary

Hexadecimal code

It is the color code for web standards, written with the pound sign (#) followed by six digits. Example:

graphic design glossary


When we are talking about design, we immediately talk about concept.

A graphic piece without a concept is just art. Thus, concept is what gives graphics a meaning, a reason.

The concept is developed and established before the creation of the graphic piece, as it is the concept that will guide all this creation.

Through the concept, we can know what colors we will use, what type of font, what type of illustration, which are the best references.

Compliance / Cohesion

Consciously harmonizing the elements of a graphic piece. Things make sense and have a relationship within a layout.

Complementary Colors

They are colors that present the greatest contrast between them. They are on opposite sides of the color circle.

By the definition of Michel Eugene Chevreul, in the 19th century, the complementary color of a matrix is ​​the one that most absorbs its spectrum.

graphic design glossary


Neological verb based on the “crop” tool, present in most graphic software.

This tool is used to cut a specific piece of an image, where all information outside the selection of that tool is lost.

Therefore, cropping is nothing more than “cropping an image”.


When we say we want a logo in curves, it means that we want the vectorized logo.



From the English “dot per inch”, it literally translates to “dot per inch”.

Therefore, this property of a bitmap image determines the amount of dots present in an inch. This is directly related to the image resolution.

An image, to be printed in an acceptable quality, must be at 300dpi.

For digital use, 72dpi is enough.


Resolution and creation of solutions to problems that require a project where the end result will be a product with a concept, form and utility.

Design has several aspects.

If the problem to be solved demands a graphic solution, as, for example, there is an event and a publicity piece is needed, the design to be applied is graphic design.

If the problem to be solved requires an object that will assist in an activity, such as, for example, a chair with special specifics to meet an ergonomic need and also add aesthetic values ​​in its shape and color so that it participates in the composition of an environment, then we have applied the product design.

If the problem to be solved involves an internal space area of ​​a building, such as a living room that needs to be well lit by natural light, it needs to be ventilated, it needs to allocate a 6-seater table and a bookcase, then we have applied the design of environments.

For problems related to clothing, we have the fashion design.

For internet-related problems, we have the Web designer.



Professional who studies and applies design.


Activity that consists of organizing and distributing textual information and images on a pre-established page.

A good layout results in a page with good readability – regardless of the amount of text -, well structured and visually balanced.

Drop shadow

Visual effect that simulates automated shading by most graphics software.

It works in a simple way, just duplicating the original shape with an offset (which can be configured) and a blur effect to give the impression of shading.

graphic design glossary



Space between two lines of text.

File extension

File type. It is usually represented by an acronym that comes right after the file name.



Fibonacci number are part of the Fibonacci sequence, which is a number sequence where the next number in the sequence is the sum of the last two numbers: 1, 1, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 …

This sequence is known as the law of proportion found in nature, a proportion that is called golden ratio or gold ratio.

Understand better by watching the video below:

Flat design

It is a more simplistic design that uses shapes with flat colors, without shading and gradients.

graphic design glossary


They are different types of letters.

Find the best sites to download free fonts by clicking here.


  1. Size of a file.
  2. File extension.


The literal translation from English is “frame”, but in design there is another meaning.

When we work with videos / animations, what we see is a large amount of images in sequence with small variations between them, giving the sensation of movement. Each of these images is called a frame.

Therefore, frame is the smallest part of a video / animation.


Acronym that means “frame per second” (frame per second) is the property of a video / animation that determines the number of images that will vary every second of a video / animation.

This property can also be called a “frame rate”.

See below for a comparison between animations at 15 frames per second, 30 fps and 60 fps.


Developed in 1927 by Paul Renner, Futura is one of the most established and influential font families in existence. It is geometric and sans serif.

graphic design glossary



German term meaning “form”. However, in gestalt design it is a complex psychological study where, briefly, we perceive the unity of several elements through 6 basic laws:

  1. Resemblance
  1. Proximity
  1. Continuity
  1. Pregnancy
  1. Closure
  2. unity

Generation of alternatives

Stage of the design project where the designer sketched various ideas to arrive at something that can be “polished” to become the final product.

Usually these alternatives are approved with the client so that no time is spent working on the refinement of a project that displeases the applicant.


The acronym stands for “Graphic Interchange Format”. It is a famous type of file that can be animated and has an alpha channel (transparency).

graphic design glossary
My own animated self-portrait in GIF format


Font family developed in 2000 by American designer Tobias Frere-Jones. It became famous for having been for some years the official source used in Coca-Cola campaigns. It is a geometric and sans serif font.

graphic design glossary


  1. Image of any kind.
  2. Form of representation of numerical data with the support of images in order to facilitate the interpretation / understanding of these data.

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Concept map: what it is and 5 simple steps to make one!


That’s when we have a smooth and gradual transition between colors. Gradient.

graphic design glossary


Mesh divided into rows and columns used to organize and delimit a graphic space.

It helps to organize and harmonize graphic pieces, especially in cases where large blocks of text must be distributed across the page.

graphic design glossary
You can click to see larger



Possibly the most important, most used and most revered font family ever created.

It was developed in 1957 by the Swiss Max Miedinger and is a sans serif font.

See below some logos where Helvetica was applied.

graphic design glossary


HyperText Markup Language.

Basic programming language used on the internet.

HTML 5.0

Latest HTML upgrade that allows advanced interaction functions, such as code-generated animations.


Market-leading vector imaging software developed by Adobe.


Market-leading diagramming software developed by Adobe.


It is a graphic product designed to explain data in a clear and simplified way.

Learn more about infographics by clicking here.


Stylized shape of a font, where the letters are slightly angled.

graphic design glossary



One of the most widely used programming languages ​​in the world provides several interaction features.


The acronym stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group.

This extension makes it possible to save high resolution bitmap images in more compact sizes. This format has no alpha layer (one of the reasons that guarantees a smaller file size).



It is the adjustment of the distance between two letters.

graphic design glossary


Y Width

It is the width of an object, text or document.


In London, layer.

Layers enable designers to work with overlapping images, making it easier to edit and manipulate images.

The vast majority of graphics software supports layers.

graphic design glossary


Layout is a term widely used in graphic design because “creating layouts” is one of the greatest functions of a designer. Layout is nothing but the final product of a graphic design. It’s art.


Also called for its English translation – timeline -, the timeline is used in videos and animations. It is in the timeline that scenes are organized or objects are animated.

The timeline is a horizontal space where you can view, edit and manipulate different objects or clips, being able to visualize their variations in time.

graphic design glossary

Guide lines

Also called by the English name (guidelines), they are “imaginary” lines that you create in your layout to have alignment references. These lines are usually of very prominent colors, so that they are not confused with their layout and do not appear in the final result.

graphic design glossary


In essence, the word logo comes from the London logos, which translating into London is “meaning”.

In communication / design, the logo is the symbol by which your brand / company / business is recognized.

graphic design glossary


Although it can be found in London dictionaries, the term is not used in the languages ​​that created the craft / science of design. Logo and brand have the same meaning and being used together generates redundancy.

The term is widely used among advertisers, but it is not well regarded among designers.


When a logo has a text support, we call the total logo symbol. It is the union of a logo and a text. See the example below for the Facebook logo.

graphic design glossary


Crop mark

In printed graphic products, the cut marks are small lines created to define where the layout will be cut to avoid that frame